ABBOTSFORD, Wis. - What a difference a year makes.
After being dominated at Hurley in last year's WIAA Division 4 regional final, Abbotsford returned the favor Saturday with a 63-30 victory.
The No. 2 seed Midgets never could get an effective offense going against the top-seeded Falcons. Abbotsford, with four players listed at 6-4 or taller, made Hurley pay for its attention inside with nine 3-pointers.
"Our kids played hard. It was just like we were in quicksand all night," Hurley coach Gary Giancola said. "We were really challenged and played poorly on offense. And they played well on offense. If they would have had an off-shooting night and not hit as many 3s, maybe we could have hung around, stayed a little closer. "
Last year, Hurley won 79-54 with Abbotsford having many of the same players.
"The kids put a lot of time in and played a lot of ball," Abbotsford coach Brad Podevels said. "They started for us as sophomores. We took our bruises and all the hard work is paying off this year."
Giancola said the Falcons played like a team on a mission.
"I'm sure last year was a big motivation for them, the way we played up there," he said. "They're tough. That's a tough team. A team that I think is probably every bit as good as Auburndale (who beat Hurley in the sectional semifinal 54-27) was last year. It would not surprise me if they're down in Madison. We always seem to run into that road block. It looks like they're our road block this year. We just met them a little earlier."
Hurley went with a 2-3 zone Saturday. It worked last year against the Falcons, who didn't hit shots then or even in last week's game against Auburndale.
"We didn't close out soon enough. We didn't contest as much as we would have liked," Giancola said. "That was the difference in the game. Second quarter, they hit their shots and they hit their 3s."
Abbotsford started out with a 3-0 lead, but Jake Colassaco was fouled on a drive to the basket . He made the shot and the free throw to tie the game.
He got to the line again and made both with 4:13 to go, giving Hurley a 5-3 advantage, its only lead of the game.
The Falcons scored the last nine points of the quarter to build a 12-5 lead.
Abbotsford hit four 3s in the second quarter, got a couple baskets inside, made two free throws and went into halftime with a dominating 34-9 advantage.
Hurley scored just twice in the quarter, on baskets by James Sukanen and Mark Saari.
"We never got in any offensive rhythm," Giancola said. "The only one who was able to create for himself and get some offense going was Jake."
Good, tight defense is played in this part of Wisconsin and teams here, including Abbotsford see it on most game nights, Giancola said.
"You could see with that type of defensive intensity, we were a fish out of water. It really handicapped us on anything we needed to do," he said. "There was really nothing we could do other than try to hit some shots and loosen it up. You get in there with their height and that, it alters your shot. The physicality they have down low, weak-side rebounds, one and done.
"Sometimes you're able to get some offensive rebounds and putbacks, it kind of settles you down. That was taken away. Knock a couple 3s down, which we weren't able to do, that kind of rights the ship once and awhile. We never were able to right the ship offensively and a lot of that was their defense."
Colassaco finished a fine career with a team-high 16 points.
Abbotsford faces Unity in Thursday's sectional semifinal at Spooner. Both were 1 seeds in their regionals. Unity beat Cameron 58-43 Saturday.
The Midgets finish the season at 18-6. They won a come-from-behind thriller in overtime Friday over Athens 66-63 before falling to Abbotsford Saturday. The No. 1 seed is a big advantage with back-to-back games in regional play.
Hurley shot just 3 of 18 from behind the arc and 8 of 39 inside. It didn't help that there were wide-open spaces behind the baskets, something Hurley is not used to.
"Our kids played hard," Giancola said. "Nothing to be ashamed of. We had a great season. It didn't end the way we'd like to have it end. But this crew got 18 wins and represented themselves, their family, their school and their community well. They had a great season. It's tough to see it end anytime. I couldn't ask for a better group. When it's fun to come to practice and good kids to be around, it really makes for an enjoyable season.
"I hope that this bitter taste, the way it ended down year, the seniors especially, they carry the feeling we had in Hurley (Friday night) and are able to get past this quickly."
Colten Voss led Abbotsford, which finished the regular season ranked No. 5 in the state, with 20 points off six 3-pointers. Eric English (6-5) had 14 points. Jacob Lavin scored 11.
A big Hurley crowd made the long drive.
"That's what I feel bad about. The price of gas and the time and energy to come down here and we were unable to push the game for four quarters and make it entertaining," Giancola said.
Hurley - Brad Vaara 2, Jake Tenlen 3, Mitchell Maki 1, Jake Colassaco 16, James Sukanen 2, Mark Saari 4, Chris Edyvean 2. FTs: 5-7. Fouls: 16. Fouled out: None. 3-pointers: Colassaco 2, Tenlen 1.
Abbotsford - Jacob Lavin 11, Dillon Novak 1, Dillon Kramas 1, Nathan Kunze 9, Garett Rau 3, Eric English 14, Michael English 4, Colten Voss 20. FTs: 14-23. Fouls: 10. Fouled out: None. 3-pointers: Voss 6, Rau 1, Lavon 1, Kunze 1.
Hurley 5 9 19 30
Abbotsford 12 34 53 63